Difficulties of Indian Muslims

 Sixty seven years have passed since India got independence from British rule. During these years we have scaled many heights in science and technology, education, economy and life expectancy. Today, we are among the nuclear powers. Being the biggest democracy of the world with great natural resources at our disposal, we play a vital role in international affairs.

However socially and ethically we remain backward. Casteism and religious bigotry have grown along with our economy. This is against the expectations of our freedom struggle, which envisaged equality of opportunity for all citizens as enshrined in the Constitution later. However, today the society stands divided on religious and caste lines.

Vicious, divisive propaganda by communal organisations has polarised the minds and led to a wide gulf between Hindus and Muslims. People who used to take part in each other’s festivals and ceremonial functions now do not look eye to eye and suspect each other. This is evident in every field and is reflected in the extremely poor condition of the Muslim community. Institutionalised bias has drastically reduced job opportunities for Muslims.

A majority of Muslims are searching their destiny in small hotels, garages and auto rickshaws etc. where even after working day and night rigorously they remain hand to mouth. Their children can’t go to good schools and are compelled to work as child labour to make both ends meet. Higher education has certainly gone out of reach.

Forced into slums, excluded from reliable sources of livelihood, Muslims are living under a constant threat of anti-Muslim riots which take a  huge toll on life and property. Such riots are frequent. The  people behind these acts win elections and come to power, making it difficult for law to reach them.

Sachar Committee and Mahmood-ur-Rahman Committee suggested that some reservation in jobs would be of help for Muslims, but even a 5 percent reservation has not been granted. The population of Muslims in jails in often higher than their share in the country’s population. Since BJP came to power at the Centre, horrors like hate speech and forcible conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism have increased. To compound it, now they are calling Mahatma Gandhi’s killer a patriot.

An extremist ideology has taken over the country.  We have already witnessed the destruction of such ideologies in countries like Germany, Italy and Japan in recent past. To rescue the country we would have to strengthen its democratic and pluralistic tradition and join such groups that stand for these values.

Sajed Ali Khan

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2015 on page no. 11

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